Riverdale: Should Riverdale Graduate to College?

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Riverdale fans, we carry a lot of worries from episode to episode.

We worry if the show's mysteries are building up to satisfactory resolutions.

We worry about the inconsistencies in characterization and canon. And of course, there's the constant drama surrounding ships.

Classroom Chaos - Tall - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 6

One thing we haven't really needed to worry about is Riverdale's future on the airways. Since its first season, Riverdale has been one The CW's best performing shows. We may only be halfway through Riverdale Season 3, but Riverdale received an early renewal for a fourth season.

Related: The CW Cheat Sheet: Which Shows Are in Danger?!

It's too early to theorize what will go down in Riverdale Season 4, but it seems safe to assume Archie, Betty, Jughead, Veronica, et al., will still be high school students (even if we don't see them too often in class or doing anything remotely related to high school).

Like Dawson's Creek before it, Riverdale Season 1 and Riverdale Season 2 covered sophomore year, and Riverdale Season 3 has them as juniors.

Riverdale Season 4 could be their senior year and have graduation occurring towards the end. However, the end of high school does not mean the end of the story.

Graduation - Riverdale Season 2 Episode 1

Riverdale could very well last for more than four seasons, so what should happen next?

Many teen dramas transition from high school to college, but a show's college years are rarely as well received as its high school years. How should Riverdale answer the college question: avoid it, go for it, or skip it?

While it seems Riverdale is now following the one season equals school year rule, the passage of time has always been a murky subject on the show. Sometimes the action picks up right where we left off, and sometimes there are significant gaps.  

Related: Get CBS All Access via Prime Video Channels for Hit Shows, Exclusive Originals & Live TV!

Riverdale can continue to play with time as much as it wants to, and that could mean stretching things so high school continues beyond the fourth season.

If nothing else, having the characters remain high schoolers is one of the truest to the comics choices Riverdale could make. There have been comics about the Archie characters as adults or young kids, but for the most part, Archie and the gang have been in high school since the 1940s.

Origin Story - Riverdale Season 1 Episode 7

However, what works in comics doesn't always translate well in a live-action adaptation.

It's also probably not a good idea to keep the characters in high school when Riverdale takes less interest in their high school lives with every passing season.

Is letting the characters go off to college the better choice? A lot of logistical details on how to keep the cast together would need to be worked out first.  

Beverly Hills 90210, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Vampire Diaries had some or many of its characters attend the same local college.

UC Sunnydale - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

It's an eye-roll inducing move, but it's something we can swallow for the sake of moving of the story along, especially since Riverdale forces us to accept far more ridiculous things (mobster!Archie, Pop's houses a speakeasy) on a regular basis.

Not having every single character attend the same school could mitigate some of the eye-rolling. Characters like Cheryl, Kevin, Josie, Reggie, and Toni could go to different colleges since they don't appear in every episode, and sometimes they're just glorified extras. They could come and go with minimal hand-waving. 

As for the core four, Riverdale Season 3 Episode 10 brought attention to Archie's academic and Betty's financial struggles. Veronica and Jughead's financial situations aren't stable either. They also live in a murder town, and who knows how deans of admissions will react to their extracurricular activities.

Veronica Bets It All - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 7

It wouldn't be surprising if one or more of them wind up pursuing job opportunities or alternative educational paths instead of going to a four-year university.

Another way to avoid the "everyone goes to the same college" phenomenon is to take the approach Dawson's Creek and Gossip Girl did in keeping their characters in the same city but have them attend different schools. Is that even an option for Riverdale though? 

Gossip Girl had the advantage of already being based in a large city with a multitude of colleges.

Dawson's Creek had to relocate from the small town of Capeside to Boston and was able to because the show relied less on any specific location and more on the connections the characters had with one another.

The Cast That Stays Together - Dawson's Creek

Riverdale is different. Much of its identity comes from being a show about a small town with dark secrets.

Can Riverdale be Riverdale if the show isn't set in Riverdale?

More Mysteries More Problem  - Riverdale Season 2 Episode 14

As a show progresses it often strays from the original premise. Sometimes shows stray so far the title makes no longer makes sense.

If Riverdale stays true to its style and continues telling the story of Archie and his friends, then a different locale might not be such a dramatic change to the status quo.

Related: Is a Gossip Girl Reboot in the Future?

Furthermore, going away to college doesn't have to shut a character out of their hometown.

Rory Gilmore often came home to Stars Hollow and could still take part in town events like The Festival of Living Art and her best friend's baby shower.

Lane's baby shower - Gilmore Girls

Riverdale characters could do the same. Although they would be probably visiting because someone needs their help to dispose of a body.

Riverdale could also split up the characters so that some are in Riverdale and others are elsewhere.

Doing so could lead to more screentime and independent storylines for the Riverdale parents, which could be beneficial to the show.

Midnight Club Reunion - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 6

However, logistics is only the first challenge teen dramas face in their transition from high school to college.

Depicting college seems to be a harder task for a tv show than depicting high school. It might be because the cast still feels split up even when they are geographically close.  It's also harder to generate stakes because college is less supervised than high school.  

Related: Riverdale Round Table: Who Shot Hiram Lodge?

There's also the inevitability of all tv shows declining in quality the longer it goes on. 

The occasional teen drama (Beverly Hills 90210 and Gilmore Girls) lasts long enough to show the complete college journey. Others like Veronica Mars and Dawson's Creek get canceled a year or two in.

Beverly Hills Graduates

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries, and Gossip Girl tried the college life for a little bit but ultimately decided college was an impediment to the stories they wanted to tell and had the characters drop out.

Knowing Riverdale, it's all too easy to imagine Archie, Betty, Jughead, and Veronica dropping out so that the show can focus more on the murder mysteries.

If that's the case why bother with all the gymnastics the transition to college will create. Why not skip it altogether?

Heads are turning - Riverdale

One Tree Hill and Pretty Little Liars used time skips to bypass the college years. Riverdale should do the same.

A time skip would make it much easier to keep the cast together. It gives Riverdale the opportunity to deescalate things and go back to a smaller scale plot that's easier to build from.

Related: Veronica Mars Revival Heading to Hulu in 2019!!

Allowing the characters to age up would also give them more agency and lessen the ridiculousness of having villains completely obsessed with a bunch of teenagers.

Hiram has Archie pinned down - Riverdale Season 2 Episode 11

Time skips are also a great springboard for relationship drama whether it is romantic or platonic. Who stayed close? Who fell apart? Will a reunion bring them back together or tear them further apart?

A time skip would be the best way to preserve Riverdale's identity as a show about a small town with dark secrets but still allow the characters to change and develop.

To give Riverdale the best chance for its future, the show should skip over the college years but let Archie and the gang move on to the next stage of their lives. 

Joyride - Riverdale

What do you think, TV Fanatics? Would you prefer if everyone stayed in high school?

Should we be more optimistic about the prospect of the characters going to college, or is going straight to post-college life the best solution?

Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Becca Newton is a staff writer for TV Fanatic.

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